if you also take care of your first reflections you will be even more amazed
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Could not agree more. A little adjustment can make a hugh difference to a well-trained ear. I've come to the conculsion as well, at least in my system, that less sounds better. Bare-wire spk. connections. Less buttons, switches that a signal goes though the better the sound as well. (I guess that's what really makes my simply Brio 3 sound so good.)
You and I sit in similar positions. I'm about 8.5 feet from the speakers, and the speakers are about 8 feet apart.
In my experience, moving the speakers closer together also resulted in a deeper image, but more contained between the speakers. Having them wider apart created a wider image that extends out beyond the speakers. Finding just the right distance is tricky!
Moving them closer also had the effect of moving the first reflection points a bit farther down the side walls, so this likely helped as well. Toe-in will also affect the location of the first reflection points. You know how to use a mirror (and a friend) to find the first reflection points, yes?
. I was immediately floored by how much better my system sounded. There was a naturalness that I never heard before. Soundstage depth also increased dramatically (which may not be saying much since before I had zero depth).
I keep saying it over and over and over and over and over and over and over - get those speakers far away from the side walls - at least 3 feet if you can!
If your "throne view" photo is anything to go by as to speaker placement then it is not surprising you were completely totally floored when you moved the speakers closer together.
Well done for making such a huge improvement ....at no cost to boot!
While it may vary somewhat with speaker design (dispersion), I believe most speakers will benefit from placement at least 3' from the sidewalls, measured to the HF driver. From my reading, it is desirable to have direct sound arrive at least 10 ms ahead of reflected sound to reduce muddiness and smearing. Fortunately, sound travels at approximately one foot per ms so this makes for an easy calculation. Using a tape measure, the distance from the speaker baffle to the prime listening spot (PLS) should be at least 10' less than from the baffle to the first reflection point on the sidewall and then to the PLS. From this you will see that sidewall distances greater than 3' may be even better.
If you have not read Richard Hardesty's "The Audio Perfectionist" site, he believes most systems are set up with speakers too far apart and that some form of isosceles triangle set up is best, not an equilateral triangle as we once believed.
fihigh, thank you for the kind words. My speaker are about 5ft 9inches apart measured from the center line of each speaker.
tvad, I do know the mirror trick. My problem is that I cant do anything about the first reflection point anyway since my system resides in the living room. I am not allowed to put up room treatments. I hope to my system into a small den which may not be ideal for my large speakers but I figure I can throw a bunch of room treatments at it and have it sound better than my large living room with no treatments.
shadorne, what can I say, I am pretty dense. It takes a few hundred repititions but I eventually get it. :) I have been lazy in the past to move my speakers because they are so heavy.
It's always nice to discover hidden performance in your gear so keep tweaking, next with toe in/out (as Tvad pointed out) which will help you maximize your soundstage width. This may already have improved when you moved the speakers closer together. Start by aiming the tweeters to intersect to a point on your listening chair right behind your head. You can use a level laser on the top of the speaker just over the tweeter and parallel to the speakers sides to help you aim it. This usually gives you a very tightly focused soundstage. Start towing them out equally little by little until you find the spot you like best. The sound stage will start to open up but will become more sensitive to small changes in speaker placement and the position of your head. If the center image falls to one side you'll need to adjust one of the speakers accordingly. Depending on room size, acoustics, etc. I like to start with equilateral distances between the tweeters and my listening position and be able to see just a little bit of the inner sides of each speaker cabinet - this depends on the width of the speaker cabinet - from the listening position. My speakers are actually just a bit closer to each other than to my listening position which is similar to Pryso's information. Different speakers have different dispersion patterns and room interactions so you need to experiment. You may then try moving the speakers incrementally in all directions again to try to squeeze a bit more out of them (like setting up a cartridge). It's a balancing act to find the best location. You've got a sweet system, it should sound great.
After listening to my system all morning I thought I would share some of my thoughts on the differences I am hearing:
1. The bass seems to be deeper. I have always had tight, punchy bass, but now it is sounds like my speakers are going lower. It is as if I added a sub (almost).
2. I am hearing more low level detail, like the exhaling of the singer and the shimmer of cymbals. Notes are also lingering much longer. I have always been a bug believer that a system needs to retrieve all the available detail in order to accurately convey the ambiance of the music, thus making it sound as "live" as possible.
3. The music has more weight and solidity to it. There is a fleshiness and dimensionality that I never had before (dare I say warmth?). This creates a more intimate music setting. Since I listen to mostly small ensemble, acoustic vocalists the recreation of an intimate is exactly what I prefer.
All I can say is that I am very happy. I have been playing cds that I am familiar with all morning and enjoying how wonderful the music sounds. I did not realize how detrimental 1st reflection points are.
The music has more weight and solidity to it
What you have done by placing the speakers further from side walls is to cut down on early reflections form the mid and treble - it allows your brain to process the primary signal before the reflections arrive - you hear more detail rather than a cluttered claustrophobic sound.
If you get the speakers away from the back wall (6 feet or so) and add bass traps you can extend the "solidity" into the lower midrange and bass (although you will lose some room bass boost). Bass frequencies below about 600 Hz go in all directions - so a speaker at two feet from the back wall will have reflected bass and lower mids being reflected back at the listener from the wall behind the speakers. It won't affect the soundstage as much as sidewall reflections of mid and treble sounds but you still lose a bit of solidity.
Tboooe, there is one school of speaker placement, though obscure in high end, that places the speakers almost right next to each other and then places a sound absorbing material directly between the two speakers and extends that barrier almost all the way to the listening position.
I read about it in David Moulton's book, "Total Recording." I've never tried it out personally...
What you have done by placing the speakers further from side walls is to cut down on early reflections form the mid and treble - it allows your brain to process the primary signal before the reflections arrive - you hear more detail rather than a cluttered claustrophobic sound
He is also decreasing bass loading as well. If they were too close to the walls before, he was likely overloading the bass and getting heavy resonance in certain frequencies. This would muddy up the imaging, making it harder to hear some of the other frequencies and consequently affect the precision of localization. A person can correct for the reflection issues that close wall placement causes fairly easily with good absorption material, but you can't easily deal with the bass loading problem...
Also, he might have been suffering from imaging of instruments and vocals that are out of proportion if the speakers were too far apart.
Back in the early 90's Monster Cable had a acoustic device that extended from the middle of the wall behind and between the speakers extending out like a probiscus toward the listener. This device was said to increase the stereophonic effect by decreasing crosstalk between the speakers. The acoustic wavefront pressure would be reduced at the lisenting position much like the ill effects caused by a ninty degree soffitt resulting in gross amounts of phase shift and frequency cancelation. Tom
Shadorne, reading your posts about speaker placement, and then looking at the speaker placement in your personal system where they are built directly into a wall unit, makes me wonder if you follow your own placement rules?
Good question. For side walls I am 4 feet away - which is a fairly safe distance. However speakers built into wall is pretty unusual. Let me explain.
Here is a link that explains what it going on with Soffit Mounting Speakers.
If you move speakers far enough away from the wall behind them then you will reduce slightly the severity of the "comb filter" response dips in the bass and lower mid. (This is why I always suggest 6 feet or more for normal home setups)
Alternatively - what I have done - is to place speakers entirely into the wall and totally eliminate the "frequency response dips" altogether and an approach that ALSO eliminates speaker baffle edge diffraction issues entirely too.
You will see that I have treated the wall behind the listening position with plenty of absorption - log fireplace and GIK traps - this is because soffit mounting gives a strong completely coherent bass and tends to uniformly excite all room modes (so it is not without its own issues/quirks).
If I did not have soffit mount then my preference would be to move the speakers out into the room at least 6 feet - which is what I generally recommend to others with more normal setups.
Here is a link which shows what I loosely based my design on The Mastering Lab. Same speakers. Similar two-thirds height speaker wall. Only my sub is not soffit mounted. You may not have ever heard of Doug Sax/Mastering Lab but you probably have heard of Sheffield Labs Direct to Disc (this is Doug) and if you have an extensive CD/SACD collection of your favorite high audio quality music then Doug Sax has probably mastered a good portion of them. (Just to say that in wall speaker mounting is not completely crazy/without merit - btw I would not recommend you plop any old speakers behind drywall - that will not work at all - a lot of thick MDF and heavy bracing as well as fibreglass absorption went into what I had built - concrete would have probably been better!)
Some years ago when I sold Dunlavy speakers. The man himself told me that he was at work on a set of inwall SC4's. He also said they measured better than their boxed brothers. He said the only thing any two rooms have in common are that they have walls, and because of this fact he could better predict the final outcome.
James Louspeakers have many different inwalls enclosed in aircraft aluminum enclosures, some with 2 drivers and some 7ft tall with multiple drivers. These were very impressive at the CEDIA trade shows. Tom
I also found that my speakers were too far apart and too close to the side walls. Many thanks to lots of audiogoners!
A good friend suggested that I get a CD with QSound recording technology to test my set up. One of these CDs is Amused to Death by Roger Waters. In the beginning of Track 1, there are dog barking and man-woman conversation. When speakers are set up correctly, the dog barking sound should appear at 90 degrees from the center line to the right, and the conversation should be 90 degrees to the left.
I can adjust the toe-in of the speakers to get these two sounds at different angles too. It was a fun exercise. My room is not fully symmetrical from sound absorbing point of view. So I have set my speakers at different levels of toe-in.
I experienced just the opposite and improved on central imaging by moving my speakers farther apart. Not surprisingly, since an equal triangle has been established, 9' between speakers (center) and 9' to the listening position from each speaker. Previously, I had the speakers to close together at 7.5' for aesthetic reasons. It all has to do with the room and unless you're lucky enough to have a custom designed or "perfect" size room, you end up compromising. While I have plenty of room on the sides, I lack the proper amount of depth between front and rear walls. I can get great imaging and sound staging, but I can't bring the speakers into the room far enough to eliminate unwanted bass loading. Now, due to WAF I must find a source for invisible room treatments.